Holiday Market in Royal Oak is facing criticism from customers for allegedly telling two employees to remove Black Lives Matter messaging from their uniforms last week. Management at the company has been accused online of telling employees they could be fired for wearing the messaging. The company eventually addressed the outcry in a Facebook post over the weekend, which has since been deleted.
As recently as Thursday, June 4, screenshots of a Facebook post began circulating widely on Facebook claiming that Holiday Market in Royal Oak had “threatened to fire an employee if they did not remove a Black Lives Matter sticker from their hat.” The screenshots were shared on Facebook, along with calls to boycott the market for not supporting employees showing solidarity for the movement that aims to draw attention to police brutality and violence against black communities. Eater reached out to the original poster, Dnomaid Lliw, and did not receive a response at press time.
Shortly after the post was brought to Eater’s attention, we reached out to Holiday Market in Royal Oak for comment and did not receive a response. Then on Saturday, the company’s co-owner Tom Violante Jr. shared a statement to Facebook addressing the issue.
The post has since been deleted, though screenshots shared with Eater through an anonymous tip preserved the original post. In it, Violante acknowledges two incidents involving employees refusing to take off Black Lives Matter-related statements from their uniforms, but denies that anyone was fired. Violante also states that the uniform policy is in place so that the company doesn’t have to take a stance on “which message is good or bad.” He goes on to say that people magically leave behind “religion, race, sexual orientation, political leanings and states and become pure human” when they enter the market and refers to the grocery store as an apolitical, “cultural miracle.” Here’s the full transcript of the statement with screenshots included below:
There were two incidences that happened in our store regarding our uniform policy that made its way into public forums. Both incidences involved employees placing messages in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement.
One employee made a sign that said “I can’t breathe” and pinned that sign to the back of his coat. When the manager informed him of our uniform policy, which we do not allow any personal statements on or attached to uniforms, he became emotional and stated that he had a constitutional right to wear his sign. The manager came to me personally about this and I explained that this is a very emotional time and a very emotional subject and instructed the manager to let him wear the sign and I would talk to the employee in the next few days.
The next day an employee put a a piece of tape on his hat and wrote “Black Lives Matter”. Our HR manager walked over to him and informed him of our uniform policy. Again, the employee was emotional and asked to continue to wear in support. To some effect, a discussion came up of what could happen to the employee if he continued to wear the sticker and the HR manager stated that he had to follow our uniform policy to work at Holiday Market. From this interaction, the messaging going around public forums has been that Holiday Market is firing people who wear “Black Lives Matter” buttons.
No one has been fired.
Holiday Market has been in business for 66 years and has never changed our vision, goals and how we serve the community. The reason we do not allow messaging on our uniform is eventually we get into the business of determining which message is good or bad. The magic of Holiday Market is the (sic) when you cross our threshold you leave religion, race, sexual orientation, political leanings and states and become pure human. This is true if you are an employee or a customer. You become connected with things we have in common and love; quality food, recipes, local asparagus, a piece of raspberry cheesecake. Holiday Market is a cultural miracle. Everyone appreciates that each person is uniquelly different and equally divine. Stories and recipes are shared with people who have different backgrounds because they are together at Holiday Market.
Holiday Market’s message is far more powerful than a sign. Look how we hire, look who we serve and look how we serve. Holiday Market’s approach to community permeates through each employee as exemplified during the COVID crisis. On March 13th our community went into true panic. Uncertainty was high and there was a true sense that you could die if you were out in public. However, Holiday Market employees showed up to work no for themselves or Holiday Market, they did it to be there for the community that needed them. People working with people to help people.
We would never wish to undermine the feelings of anyone, whether it be our employees, customers or anyone in our community. These times are unprecedented, and we are all trying to find the best ways to move forward. Holiday Market will continue to imperfectly move towards unity.
Eater has once again reached out to Holiday Market for comment on its decision to delete the post and did not hear back at press time.
The controversy mirrors others taking place between public-facing businesses and community members demanding concrete action in support of Black Lives Matter protests across the country. Just last week, Detroit Popcorn Company faced a boycott over social media statements made by the businesses now former owner Evan Singer criticizing the uprisings and suggesting that protesters deserved knees on their necks. Singer was forced out of the business by its previous owner just a day later.
Update: June 8, 2020, 8:15 p.m.: Holiday Market has revised its original statement as of 5 p.m. In the new post to Facebook, Tom Violante Jr. apologizes and clearly states that Holiday Market supports Black Lives Matter. “Like so many of you, we’re navigating conversations about necessary social change and the Black Lives Matter movement in real time,” Violante writes. “We are committed to growing, learning and engaging in deeper conversations with the community and our team. This goes well beyond our uniform policy and reaches into the very heart and soul of our company.” In the post, Violante commits to “mass produce” Black Lives Matter and Enough is Enough pins for staff members who want to show their support for the movement and has made a $2,500 donation to the Equal Justice Initiative.
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